What can be done to encourage my mother to walk again after a broken hip?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother (who is 81 years old) broke her hip two months ago and fractured her right hip. She underwent surgery and the fracture appears to be healing well. Due to the fall the rehabilitation facility keeps her in a wheelchair during the day and they do not allow her stand (except in physical therapy)and discourage her from going to the bathroom as she is wearing a diaper.

She now appears to be afraid to walk as she thinks if she stands up she will fall.

She is also unhappy with the food she is being given-however, she is now beginning to eat better with both an appetite stimulant and food I bring her.

Expert Answer

Julie Kardachi is an occupational therapist, and Celeste Carlucci is a professional dancer and fitness expert. With more than 60 years of combined experience in the field, they created and run Fall Stop"¦MOVE STRONG, a joyful, dance- and education-based fall-prevention and strengthening program that keeps older adults active and safe at home and in their communities. They have been teaching this program since 2004, and the program DVD has been sold since 2008.

Perhaps you can request that your mother's PT start working with her on increasing her mobility and even training the family or staff to walk with her. The family can participate in goal setting, and request that goals be directed towards fall prevention, independence in toileting etc. Clearly your mother has a fall risk as she has already fallen and treatment should be directed towards identifying the factors that lead to her fall and educating her about strategies to help her walk after a broken hip. Also she should be strengthening her legs and walking as much as is safe.